1971 Porsche 917/20 “Pink Pig” Pilots: R. Joest, W. Kauhsen Team: Martini Racing Team Race: DNF (S 5.0 class) at Le Mans in 1971 Minichamps - 430716923 (diecast)
By 1971, the Porsche 917 had proved itself. Even so the engineering department at Stuttgart had a few more ideas for the car. In late 1970 they asked SERA, a French aerospace consultancy agency, to design a new 917. They wanted a car that combined the down force and stability generated by the 917K bodywork and a drag figure that was close to what the 917LH offered.
The result of that combination was the 917/20. However, with it’s bloated form it was a far cry from the slim & elegant 917K . Well, it looked like a fat pig. As legend goes, Martini Team’s management found it so ugly that they refused to race it in the traditional Martini colors. They even disallowed any mention to Martini in the whole car. Because of that, Porsche designer Anatole Lapine, just for giggles, had an idea. He decided to paint it pink as a pig and label body parts according to butcher-style cuts of a pig. That day the world met the famous Pink Pig (aka “le Cochon Rose” or “Der Trüffeljäger von Zuffenhausen”).
Designed specifically for La Sarthe, the Pink Pig only raced there once. And it was so wide that it didn’t fit in Porsche’s current transporters, the Mercedes MB O317. So to get to France a regular flatbed truck (rumors say it was an Army truck) hauled it. The engine was Porsche’s new flat-12 with 4907 cm³, DOHC and 24 valves that produced 600 hp. Though the car was REALLY fast, with an official top speed of 368 km/h at the Mulsanne, it wasn’t lucky. The “enhanced” aerodynamics, unbeknownst to the pit crews, over-stressed the breaks. With that, around 11 hours into the race, while in 5th position, it crashed out at Arnage and retired.
The Pink Pig is painfully ugly and did half of only one race in it’s entire career. Still, the Pink Pig is MUCH more notorious than the sleek 917K that won that race. It’s so iconic that even regular motorsports fans recognize it. To me it’s one of those idiosyncratic stories that make Le Mans so great and interesting. So without a doubt it’s a grail model for my collection.
At first I would have preferred the more high-end Spark version of the car. Unfortunately though, it appears they’re made out of unobtanium. But from the few pics I’ve seen, the only difference is that it’s the “race version”. On Spark’s model there is black tape around the door (the car didn’t have that at the start). Minichamps did a fantastic job, though as you can see, it’s the pre-start version. Still, I couldn’t be more pleased with it. I think it’s a must buy for any Le Mans or racing Porsche collector.